have been a long time casual Anti-Flag fan. I remember first hearing the Die For Your Government album when I was fifteen and being really struck by it. Half the songs are just as political as an album call Die For Your Government should be and the other half are cynical critiques of the scene coming from three kids who seem to love punk rock. The songs are loud, fast, and full of fury, it is everything that I love about punk rock.
Even though I was affected by the album and Die For Your Government was on every mix tape I made (and blasted out of the windows of my car at all hours of the day and night), I never became a hardcore Anti-Flag fan. Over the years I saw them a few times, sometimes as a headliner, sometimes as support, and a few times at Warped Tour, and I always had such a good time when they played. They were always able to capture the audience.
Fast forward a few years, a few weeks ago I heard that Anti-Flag was goin to be playing my hometown at a super small venue, Redwood Art Space. I was going to be in town visiting family anyway so a friend and I decided to go and relive our youth a bit. Redwood Art Space is the local all ages venue that is keeping the Wilkes-Barre scene going strong. The average age of the crowed was somewhere between 15 and 17 and it seemed liked a mix of kids that were there to see Anti-Flag and kids that were there because that is where they are every weekend. I hadn’t relized it before this show, but it had been quite a few years since I had been in a venue like those I had grown up going to. Now that I am an old fogey most bands that I going to see are in larger venues or in bars, I don’t know when that change happened, but I was super psyched to be in this tiny cramped room with 150 kids who were so excited to be at a show.
By the time that Anti-Flag took the stage the heat inside the venue was pretty oppressive but after they started to play nobody seemed to notice. The band’s energy was intoxicating and the pit was going crazy (there was even some skanking going on). Everyone was screaming along and arms were flailing in the air to the beat. They plowed through one song to the next with the same fire as they had when they were writing them.
Their entire set was f’ing electric, never a down moment, they were passionate musicians and funny emcees. I am a huge fan of bands who talk in between every few songs, I feel like it makes them more human and establishes more of a connection with their audience. Anti-Flag took that to a whole new level, the talked of politics, current events, the scene, and punk as if they were talking to a group of friends. There was a connection established between band and audience that we all hope for, the audience felt that they were having just as good of a time playing as we were having listing to them.
After their set was over, though we were soaked through with sweat, we still wanted more. And they gave it to us. They started playing and then slowly moved all of their gear to the middle of the pit, piece by piece. Until they were totally engulfed by their audience and it all became one mass of music and singing.
I left that show totally invigorated, Anti-Flag has such a positive attitude and they care so deeply about the small punk rock scenes and all the kids that are coming out to shows. Anti-Flag is still reaching those young kids who love punk who are old enough to have a social conscious and young enough to believe that they can really change the world. For me, as I watched all the kids dance and sing it gave me such an awesome feeling to see the next generation of punk kids in my hometown who weren’t worried about anything but the music.
As a bonus, as you walked in the door they were handing out digital download cards for an Anti-Flag EP of sorts. Over 15 years since their first album, Anti-Flag is still writing socially conscious and exciting songs that capture audiences and convert listeners to followers. These 5 tracks are full of vigor, angst, and hope.
Track one, SKATE, is a metal-y thrash-y old school punk.
Track two, The Neoliberal Anthem, is classic Anti-Flag, a politically charged catchy song full of chanting energy with an air of menace.
Track three, This Is The New Sound, has a staccato cadence that keeps the listener on their toes throughout the song.
Track four, Whistleblower, has a great alternating verse and chorus structure of old school hardcore style vocals and a super catchy chorus that will incite any pit to go crazy.
The last track, 1915, is the heaviest of the tracks, and my favorite. It is has a great call to arms style and it gains momentum with every verse. The great working class persecuted lyrical content will resonate and incite listeners. The end of the song, where the music drops out before the last word creates an eerie feeling of this songs existing in the silence.
This EP is a lot of fun filled with substance. Three of the songs (The Neoliberal Anthem, This Is The New Sound, and 1915) are from their newest release, The General Strike, while SKATE and Whistleblower are unreleased.
The General Strike is out now.